The Sidekicks aren’t wearing their influences on their sleeves anymore. Not that it was a bad thing in the past but it felt like they were holding back a gear. Consider Runners In The Nerved World as the chain coming unhinged allowing the bike to go down the hill, clearing everything in its path and in so doing, charting the new course – and organically so, in the band’s evolution. They’ve never sounded better.
This album feels more diverse and complete than their older material, which really shows how well things stack up this time around. The ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ are there to sweeten proceedings as you’d expect. But things feel darker and more cynical. It balances out the summer, breezy, fictional, catchy and anthemic parts of the record. The latter’s seen on the jangly opener “Hell Is Warm” which definitely disarms cynics. Its melodic solos and warm vocals really show why Steve Ciolek has that mainstream aura to him. It’s a pop/indie-punk gem, which plays neatly into its follow-up track in “Everything In Twos”. Jangly yet cutting deeper through slicker sections and bigger hooks.
The storytelling’s honest as expected but what shakes you up is that with the mid-section being a bit to slow and poppy, you’re still able to listen to record as a cohesive collective and love all the songs – as a flowing unit. Where the individual songs might not be that great on their own, take them in all at once and you’ll see how they fit together nicely. That paves the way for Brand New fans to dig into the more dreary, bass-heavy jams like “Century Schoolbook Grown – Ups” and “Spinning Seat” in the final-third. Dramatic and theatrical. Beautiful, haunting and a great contrast to so much on offer. And to so much we’ve associated the band with in the past.
The Sidekicks feel more liberated on this go. You can’t ask for more. Just when you thought they couldn’t get any more addictive, this comes and blows your fucking mind.